JaRon Boone is not an ordinary high school basketball player, but then again he doesn't come from an ordinary basketball background.
Not many high school boys routinely play pickup games with current NBA players. Boone did last summer and he held his own.The fact that he's not intimidated by professional superstars stands to reason, however. After all, he was raised by one. JaRon is the son of former Utah Star and Jazzman Ron Boone, whose who's 1,041 consecutive professional games played is still a record.
But make no mistake about it, JaRon has made a name for himself in the basketball world. For his recently completed senior season at Skyline High, Boone has been named the Deseret News' 1991-92 Mr. Basketball as the outstanding high school player in the state.
Also being recognized as Most Valuable Players in leading their teams to state titles in the four high school classifications are Alta's Travis Knight in 4A, Brandon Parker of Ogden in 3A, San Juan's Nathan Nielson in 2A and Brandon Jones of North Summit in 1A. (The complete listing of the boys all-state teams are on page D-2.)
Boone, a three-year starter at Skyline, averaged better than 20 points per game during his career. This past year he led the undersized Eagles, thought by many prior to the season to be the weakest of the seven tough Region Two teams, to a second place finish, ahead of eventual state champion Alta."Finishing second (in the region) was a great accomplishment for us. I honestly thought we'd be fortunate to finish fourth," Skyline coach Paul Jeppesen said. "JaRon was one of the keys to helping us get there. He's just an outstanding player."
Boone, who stands a shade over 6-feet-4, was the tallest player on his team but played outside most of the time because of his ballhandling, passing and shooting skills. As a senior he averaged 21.2 points per outing despite being double teamed frequently and being the focus of opponents' defensive strategies.
While his point production remained about the same during his three years at Skyline, Boone's passing skills improved greatly. "He's a very good passer, sometimes to a fault," Jeppesen said. "He's never been a selfish player and sometimes he would pass the ball when he should have taken the shot."
Boone's talents were recognized locally right off, but last summer was when he started turning heads on a national scale. He went to a basketball camp in Indiana where he had the chance to play against many of the best high school players in the country and show off his ablilities to college coaches in the process.
Suddenly, he became the state's most hotly contested recruit since Shawn Bradley. Even the dean of college coaches, North Carolina's Dean Smith, made a personal visit to Skyline last fall trying to talkBoone into wearing Tar Heel blue as a collegian. Boone turned down that offer, as well as ones to Utah, Kansas, Seton Hall and Arkansas. He signed an early letter of intent to play at Nebraska last fall. One of the major reasons he decided to become a Cornhusker was to be reunited with childhood friend Andy Woolridge, a point guard who was also going to Nebraska.
Blue Edwards of the Utah Jazz, who has played in numerous pickup games with JaRon and has watched him develop, is impressed with the youngster. "Even though he was playing (in summer pickup games) against guys who were bigger, heavier and more experienced than him, you could tell he had a lot of all-around talent," Edwards said.
JaRon's father, a four-time ABA all-star, says there is no question who was the better high school player of the two Boones. "He is head and shoulders ahead of where I was at his age," Ron said. "He's as good as any high school player in the country. I was a 5-foot-7 point guard as a senior who averaged 12 or 13 points a game and was only recruited by junior colleges."
Alta's Travis Knight was another highly recruited player. Last fall the 6-11 senior forward made a verbal commitment to play at Connecticut, but he has yet to make it official by signing.
The Hawks had great expectations laid on them during the preseason but struggled to a 6-6 region mark. Alta finally put it together during the state tournament to win the school's first 4A title.
Although the season was up-and-down, Knight's play was a constant for coach Ron Carling's team. Knight averaged 15 points and 10.6 rebounds per game and was second on the team in assists. On three occasions he pulled down 20-plus boards.
"Travis was important to us in all aspects of the game," Carling said. "He passed, scored, rebounded and his teammates really looked up to him."
Alta is one of two teams to place two players on the 4A first team. Joining Knight from Alta is 6-10 frontcourt player Nick Proud, who had an excellent state tournament.
The other team to put two on the All-State first team is Viewmont. The Vikings, who finished with a near-perfect 23-1 record - the only loss a two-point decision to Alta in the state semifinals - were led by forward Andy Jensen and guard John Robison.
Brandon Parker started for Ogden three straight years and helped his team to the 3A state championship game in each season. The Tigers won the state title during his junior and senior campaigns. Parker averaged 17 points, eight rebounds and two assists this season.
"Brandon has two main features that make him an outstanding player, his foot quickness and the quick release on his shot," Ogden coach Mitch Wilcox said of his 6-3 forward. "He could have easily scored 30 points per game if we had asked him to, but he was unselfish enough to sacrifice his own stats to make the team better."
Parker's teammate, Neil Geddes, also made the first team.
San Juan coach Dennis Jones says the game that epitomized the kind of player Nathan Nielson is came in a region semifinal against Beaver on the road. With time running out in regulation, Nielson made both free throws in a one-and-one situation to force overtime. In the extra period, he nailed a three-point jumper at the buzzer to force a second overtime. The Broncos went on to win as Nielson finished with 39 points.
"He's just a great outside shooter," Jones said. "He's earned everything he's gotten because he's spent hours and hours in the gym practicing."
Nielson, a 6-foot guard, averaged 22.3 points, seven rebounds and made 62 of 135 three-point attempts on the year.
Winning a Deseret News MVP award isn't new for North Summit's Brandon Jones. He took home MVP hardware for quarterbacking the Braves to a 1A football title earlier this school year.
Jones, a 6-foot-4 center, averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds this year. He's an all-around athlete who won the state high jump title last year and is going to Snow College on a football scholarship next fall.
"Brandon is a tremendous leaper," coach Rick Harrison said. "He had six dunks in a region game against Rowland Hall. He's a hard worker and very team-oriented."
Girls Honorable Mention
Gina Snar Orem
Angie Walker Taylorsville
Stephanie Sorenson Cottonwood
Sandra Rhea Bingham
Stephanie Cooper Layton
Shalei Valentine Layton
Tara Hinds Clearfield
Mindy Jarvis West Jordan
Annette Hill Roy
Elisabeth Pinegar Mt. View
Shanna Stevens Bear River
Jenny Powell Carbon
Vickie Larsen Pine View
Hillary Dunn Spanish Fork
Nikki Epperson Jordan
Kim Reimann Bountiful
Mary Giles Ogden
Amanda Wixom Uintah
Darcey Hayes Tooele
Monica Doman Bear River
DeDe Child Springville
Erin Hartigan Judge Memorial
Callie Thayne Altamont
Kim Frandsen Rich
Liberty Alder West Desert
Tami Pace Altamont
Joyce Johnson Rich
Shannon Topaha Whitehorse
Kara Secakuku Wasatch Academy
Miriah Wright Dugway
Melissa Barber Manila
Sharley Wardle Duchesne
Sherida Allen Piute
Traci Thompson Piute
Kelcey Goodwine Monticello
Jennifer Alder West Desert
Sally Griffiths Valley
Boys Honorable Mention
Mike Porter Bonneville
Barry Fullmer Bingham
Dave Sivulich Bonneville
Paul Barnes Provo
Ryan Halliday Davis
Chris Bates American Fork
Jared Cottam Olympus
Joey Haws Brighton
Galen Anderson Timpview
Ben Peterson Bingham
Rusty Brighton Granger
Justin Scott Highland
Shane Tingey Bingham
Eric Gentry Mountain View
Ryan Farmer Brighton
Jason Williams Hillcrest
Ryan Shaw Box Elder
Johnny Angel Union
Brandt Wilcox Mountain Crest
Chris Knight Ogden
Bill Bergeson Box Elder
Joey Johnsen Murray
Mark Bailey Payson
Cameron Evans Union
Drew Hansen Tooele
Todd Warner Tooele
Marc Lawson Tooele
Johnny Averett Springville
Dirk Christofferson Park City
Ryan Nielson San Juan
Lance Mickelsen North Sevier
Dennis Jones San Juan
Andy Trane Hurricane
Nolan Andersen Gunnison
Nate Robinson Beaver
Thayne Stembridge South Summit
Chris Winterer Park City
Mitch Bringhurst Hurricane
Jed Southwich Richfield
Jessie Wheeler Hurricane
Ben Dalton Beaver
Jason Allred Juab
Kade Morrell Wayne
Thad Feltner Bryce Valley
Jeremy Heiser Int. Christian
Ryan Renzello Tintic
Lee Robinson Piute
Derrick Clark Bryce Valley
Barry Myers Milford 4
Chris Barnes Milford
Rob Matlak Int. Christian
Blaine Tew Altamont
John Hoody Dugway
David Isaacson, Davis, 6-7, C, Sr.
Doug Henstrom, Timpview, 6-1, G., Sr.
Ryan Lewis, Mountain View, 6-1, G, Sr.
Travis Homer, Davis, 6-4, G, Sr.
Nate Gardner, East, 6-9, C, Jr.
Allison Bills, Alta, 5-7, G, Soph.
Jamie Dodge, Mountain View, 5-7, G, Sr.
Jodi Wimmer, Davis, 5-10, F, Jr.
Wendy Lloyd, Cottonwood, 6-0, F., Sr.
Denise Parker, Bingham, 5-6, G, Sr.
Phil DeGraffenreid, Payson, 6-1, G, Jr.
Pat McGrath, Granite, 6-4, G-F, Sr.
Chris Stepan, West, 6-3, G, Jr.
Jason Lyle, Mountain Crest, 6-4, G, Sr.
Kevin Carlston, Murray, 6-1, G, Sr.
Chalyce Stevens, Bear River, 5-9, F, Sr.
Julie Patten, Pine View, 6-0, C, Sr.
Shelly Whittaker, Logan, 5-9, G, Jr.
Julianna Tanner, Murray, 5-11, G, Sr.
Leslie Call, Tooele, 5-9, F, Sr.
Steve Olsen, Manti, 6-2, F, Jr.
Russell Buttars, North Sanpete, 6-1, G-F, Sr.
Brandon McKee, South Summit, 6-2, G, Sr.
Spencer Singer, San Juan, 5-10, G, Jr
Mitch Johnson, Morgan, 6-4, C, Sr.
Becca Elison, Hurricane, 5-6, G, Soph.
Heather Whimpey, Morgan, 5-10, C, Jr.
Heather Mason, North Sevier, 5-8, F, Sr.
Janette Brown, Richfield, 5-7, G, Sr.
Rachel Williamson, North Sevier, 5-11, G, Sr.
Lance Pace, North Summit, 5-11, G, Sr.
Todd Puffer, Milford, 6-4, F, Sr.
Adam Bronson, Monticello, 6-2, F, Sr.
Price Ellington, Rowland Hall, 6-2, G-F, Sr.
Henry Hopkins, Duchesne, 6-1, F, Sr.
Kacey Swensen, North Summit, 5-7, G, Sr.
Deanna Glover, Valley, 5-7, C, Soph.
Stacy Ekker, Green River, 5-8, C, Jr.
Andrea Howard, Panguitch, 5-9, F, Sr.
Patty Tucker, Altamont, 5-10, F-C, Sr.
Most Valuable Players
Class Name School
4A boys Travis Knight Alta
4A girls Raegan Scott Mountain View
3A boys Brandon Parker Ogden
3A girls Shannon Lopez Tooele
2A boys Jessica Cooper Kanab
1A boys Brandon Jones North Summit
1A girls Cherri Shurtliff Enterprise